Laminitis: A Debilitating Disease for Horses

MOTHER's Country Vet shares tips on farm animal health. Laminitis is known as a debilitating and often fatal disease, causing pain and inflammation in horse hooves.

  • A horse with laminitis will stand in a "sawhorse" stance, with all four legs angled out from the normal position.
    Photo by Adobestock/engdao
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    Jacinto Vasquez rides Foolish Pleasure (#4)to win the 1975 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
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    Jacinto Vasquez rides Foolish Pleasure (#4)to win the 1975 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

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  • 179-094-01

Jon Geller, DVM offers his farm animal health experience in caring for cows, calves, horses and sheep. This issue covers laminitis, a deadly disease for horses that can be easily prevented. 

An ounce of prevention could save your horse a world of pain.

Fort Collins, Colorado, November 1994

The stallion was sedated and quickly settled down. Sure enough an exam revealed a sky-high heart rate and brick-red gums — unmistakable signs of colic. A belly tap, done by carefully inserting an 18-gauge needle into the horse's abdomen, yielded a tube of thick, brownish blood-tinged fluid. A ruptured stomach was suspected. Too many injections of painkillers, given to treat the stallion's laminitis, had eaten through his stomach wall, allowing feed to spill into the abdominal cavity and causing severe infection and the resulting colic. Laminitis was attempting to claim yet another victim.

Emergency surgery was needed. The once champion racehorse was led, legs trembling and wobbling, to the surgery room. A catheter was quickly placed, and the horse collapsed to its knees as the anesthetic coursed through its veins.

4/16/2021 11:54:43 AM

Unfortunately very outdated information. Laminitis due to Insulin resistance/equine metabolic syndrome and Cushing's disease is very common, but can be helped. Diet, exercise, the proper hoof care and medications are key. I strongly recommend looking into the works of Dr. Kellon, Pete Ramey and Dr. Bowker and others to get insight and a better understanding of the condition and what needs to be done. It doesn't have to be a death sentence and an informed owner can make all the difference.



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